Four prospective physicians from Tufts University School of Medicine hope to make the most of time with their patients and forge more personal connections during their residencies
Match Day is a game-changing day in the lives of fourth-year medical students, when they’re notified about where they will spend the next three to seven years as resident physicians. In the days leading up to the event on March 17, four soon-to-be graduates of Tufts University School of Medicine spoke to Tufts Now about their paths and what they hope to accomplish as residents.
Olivia Fauver, M23, aspiring general surgeon
After four years as a professional dancer for various companies in Seattle, Olivia Fauver decided the time was right to begin pursuing her alternate dream of medicine. Having fulfilled all her pre-med requirements as an undergrad at Smith College, Fauver chose the School of Medicine for its Maine Track program.
“My family is on the East Coast, and I grew up in a pretty rural town,” said Fauver, who is from Meriden, New Hampshire. “So being in the Maine Track was really appealing to me – the small, close-knit community. I knew that we would work in rural sites, which is where I ultimately want to be.”
The program met Fauver’s expectations and more, she said. “There are only 40 people in the class, which is great because I was interested in being part of a small cohort. And the rural aspect of it made me think more about what barriers people face in terms of access to care.”
During her stint in Maine, Fauver volunteered over 300 hours to the domestic violence resource center, Through These Doors, spending much of that time providing phone support late into the night. “I have so much respect for how the organization engages with survivors,” she said. “During my clinical rotation, I found that sometimes interactions are very, very fast, because there's a pressure to see so many patients. On the helpline, it was such a privilege to be able to be present with someone for as long as they needed.”
During her third year in Maine, Fauver found her calling in general surgery. “It wasn't my plan, but I worked with a surgeon at a community hospital who challenged my belief system around what I thought surgeons could be and what they can do. I also found the technical rigor of the operating room to be inspiring and something that I wanted to learn. I couldn't get away,” Fauver said.
Her match: University of Vermont. “At UVM, I look forward to deepening my knowledge of rural health disparities. I’m grateful for the support I received at the Tufts Maine Track program, and I’m so excited for what’s to come.”
Winston Bell, M23, aspiring neurologist
When asked how he felt about finishing medical school, Winston Bell, MG18 (MBS), couldn’t help but speak for his fellow graduates, the group of students he’s come to know as friends. “We're excited to be done and excited to know where we're going and what we're doing,” Bell said. “We also know what's coming. And that responsibility is going to skyrocket in a way. But at the end of the day, Tufts prepared us for it.”
Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bell attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where he participated in a program consisting of high-level courses designed to mimic the intensity of medical school. The experience affirmed Bell’s dream of becoming a doctor. He earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences at Tufts before enrolling in the School of Medicine. Though he found the experience grueling at times, his commitment never wavered.
“It was that constant voice in my head that said, ‘Yes, this is hard. Yes, I'm exhausted.’ But every single time I would look around and say, ‘There's nothing else I would want to do.”
Initially focused on pediatrics, at the beginning of his fourth year, Bell discovered his interests had shifted. “All of a sudden, I realized I really do love acute medicine,” said Bell. He revamped his schedule to transition into adult medicine and specifically, neurology with an emphasis on stroke.
“One thing not everyone teaches is the stroke belt that exists in the United States. And learning that I'm from a place that increases risk for me, that's something that really motivated me to say, ‘This is my community, this is where I'm from, and this is the type of medicine that excites me.’”
Risk factors for marginalized communities in the U.S. also figured prominently in his work with the Anti-Racism Task Force at Tufts, where he reviewed curriculum and made recommendations to increase inclusivity at the school. According to Bell, the Task Force made him recognize the core humanity in people. Their humanity is what he will, from here on out, keep front of mind.
“All I’m really looking forward to is working with a bunch of humans,” said Bell. “And I’m hoping that's what I always say. That I want to work with humans, not people who think they're doctors first. I’m interested in finding a community that says, ‘This is our team, this is our family, and we’re here to support each other.’”
His match: Vanderbilt University. “I’m elated! Ecstatic. I’m going home to Tennessee, and I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to form a new residency family and join the neurology world.
Tracy Li, M23, aspiring pediatrician
Like many MD students, Tracy Li’s path to medical school was winding. Growing up, while encouraged to pursue a career in medicine – both of Li’s parents are doctors – it was a later passion for mental health that ultimately led her to Tufts.
As part of a forensics speech team in high school in Central New Jersey, Li often performed 10-minute acting monologues and other exercises in prose and poetry. “Doing theater helped me get through a lot of difficult things,” she said. “And I thought, maybe I want to do psychotherapy. When I found out there's a whole field that involved both that and the arts, I said, ‘This might be what I want to do.’”
After earning a master’s in drama therapy at New York University, Li sought to continue her work in the mental health sphere. She decided medical school was the best path toward that end. “Doctors have more power and their voice is louder when making certain changes,” said Li. “I wanted to advocate for mental health awareness, and I felt like I could have more autonomy and do more as a doctor.”
At Tufts, Li is set to earn a dual MD/MPH degree with a focus on early mental health intervention, which she expects to integrate well with pediatrics, her chosen specialty. “My first rotation was in pediatrics, and I found it really interesting to interact with kids at different developmental stages. And with my drama therapy training, I could lean into creativity and help kids process things through the arts.”
Throughout her time in Boston, Li has been a member of the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars Program and has worked with the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, a nonprofit providing shelter and other forms of support to immigrant survivors of abuse. “Right now, I'm working with a Nepalese community advocate to raise awareness of mental health and domestic violence in the Nepalese and South Asian community. We just did two focus groups this past weekend. It’s an amazing organization.”
Her match: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. “I’m really happy about the match and am excited both about the level of training and the opportunities I’ll have there, not to mention the chance to work on some new mental health initiatives with fellow residents.”
Katie Stevenson, M23, aspiring family physician
The idea to go to medical school first came to Katie Stevenson, an Ewing, New Jersey native, during a high school lifeguarding course. She said she was drawn by the blend of science plus the prospect of helping people in crisis situations.
“That slowly snowballed and meshed with my interest in the social sciences,” said Stevenson, who will be receiving a dual MD/MPH degree. As a would-be family doctor, she hopes to apply her technical skills as well as her knowledge of systems and communities to her future practice.
“I've always felt that health and taking care of people was something that happens beyond the walls of a clinic or a hospital,” Stevenson said. “A community’s health is very much influenced by the systems under which it lives, and there is a lot of impact doctors can make by working with individuals and community partners to create healthier societies and environments.”
Stevenson plans to become a rural physician, with a focus on addiction medicine. It’s an area that fits with her joint commitment to the well-being of communities and to that of patients themselves.
“I really love getting to know individuals and their stories. I think that family medicine and public health are deeply intertwined, that the social barriers people experience are most evident in their healthcare.”
Through a program at Maine Medical Center, Stevenson completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, also known as hospital chaplaincy or spiritual care. Her training, she said, is sure to inform her treatment of patients in recovery. “In family medicine or addiction medicine, where there are a lot of emotions involved, often people are in that field because we care about the longitudinal relationship with patients.”
“If you're working in a rural or underserved setting with people who are going through challenging things, to be able to fully show up and be empathetic for folks and to also be able to take care of yourself, is really valuable.”
Her match: Swedish Cherry Hill Family Medicine’s Rural Program in Washington State. “I am very excited about the program, specifically about their excellent addiction medicine training, which has a significant focus on social justice and advocacy in medicine.”